Digital Transformation driving the need to modernise the mainframe

At the core of many businesses is the reliable workhorse that is the mainframe, hosting key applications and supporting various online channels. Digital Transformation in all sectors, including government, has increased the demands on existing mainframe systems. New forms of user consumption and users expecting services to be available to them 24/7, present challenges to all organisations with mainframes at their core.

Some of these challenges are:

  • Soaring rates of digital transactions off mobile devices placing unprecedented demand for mainframe services in an often-uncontrolled way.
  • Transactions need instant, secure processing and fraud detection, handled by robust technology solutions at any time of the day or night
  • Increasing volumes of “non-value” transactions e.g. query balance of account
  • Non-agile, complex applications and technology solutions at risk of inhibiting business performance and market opportunities
  • Need to address resilience risks in current technology
  • Diminishing availability of expertise in the mainframe space as mainframe specialists retire

Recognising these challenges, organisations are increasingly responding with mainframe modernisation projects to either migrate or improve existing applications in the areas of interface, code, cost, performance, and maintainability.

There are a number of different mainframe modernisation strategies that can be adopted depending on the level of risk that organisations are willing to take on. One approach is a wholesale migration of functionality and data off the mainframe to a new technology platform. This approach carries the same sorts of risk as other large technology changes, with the added risk that newer technologies are seldom as robust as the mainframe. An alternate approach is to modernise the mainframe platform incrementally by improving or adding capabilities. This approach is a less costly option during implementation but still leaves the relatively expensive mainframe in place.

There are various factors that organisations need to consider when determining their mainframe modernisation strategy including whether to:

  • Embrace modern development techniques – expanding automated testing and deployment to the mainframe to reduce costs, improve application quality and align with standard development practices used on other platforms.
  • Update or extend functionality by adding a fresh user experience or capability which can often be done more quickly than starting from scratch and with less risk and cost.
  • Upgrade business critical COBOL applications from legacy COBOL compilers to Enterprise COBOL with direct interfaces to Java, JSON, and XML simplifying connectivity between the mainframe and mobile and cloud applications.
  • Invest in language conversion to more modern and well-known languages, e.g. COBOL, PL1, Assembler to Java, C++, C#.
  • Migrate expensive technology layers to cheaper open source cloud hosted technologies, e.g. DB2 to PostgreSQL
  • Replace technologies with scarce skills sets, e.g. VSAM, with those where skills can be more easily found in the market, e.g. DB2.
  • Move development and testing processing off the mainframe to reduce mainframe usage costs.
  • Migrate applications onto private, public or hybrid cloud infrastructure.

At CPT Global we are often involved in mainframe modernisation discussions with our clients globally who share common concerns around the position of their critical mainframe systems in a rapidly transforming digital landscape.

Our mainframe core-service offerings, and the experience gathered in delivering those services successfully to a broad range of customers and industries around the globe, positions CPT strongly in the Mainframe Modernisation space. Along with our strategic alliances with industry-leading partners, we have the expertise, the skills and the people to help and assure organisations as they navigate through their Mainframe Modernisation journeys.

Related service: mainframe modernisation

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